« Prev The Macedonians, pressed by the Emperor's… Next »

Chapter XII.—The Macedonians, pressed by the Emperor’s Violence toward them, send a Deputation to Liberius Bishop of Rome, and subscribe the Nicene Creed.

When the maintainers of the ‘homoousian’ doctrine had been thus severely dealt with, and put to flight, the persecutors began afresh to harass the Macedonians; who impelled by fear rather than violence, send deputations to one another from city to city, declaring the necessity of appealing to the emperor’s brother, and also to Liberius bishop of Rome: and that it was far better for them to embrace their faith, than to communicate with the party of Eudoxius. They sent for this purpose Eustathius bishop of Sebastia, who had been several times deposed, Silvanus of Tarsus in Cilicia, and Theophilus of Castabala in the same province; charging them to dissent in nothing from Liberius concerning the faith, but to enter into communion with the Roman church, and confirm the doctrine of the homoousian. These persons therefore proceeded to Old Rome, carrying with them the letters of those who had separated themselves from Acacius at Seleucia. To the emperor they could not have access, he being occupied in the Gauls with a war against the Sarmatæ; but they presented their letters to Liberius. He at first refused to admit them; saying they were of the Arian faction, and could not possibly be received into communion by the church, inasmuch as they had rejected the Nicene Creed. To this they replied that by change of sentiment they had acknowledged the truth, having long since renounced the Anomœan595595    See II. 35, and Hefele, Hist. of the Ch. Councils, Vol. II. p. 218 seq. Creed, and avowed the Son to be in every way ‘like the Father’: moreover that they considered the terms ‘like’ 101(homoios) and homoousios to have precisely the same import. When they had made this statement, Liberius demanded of them a written confession of their faith; and they accordingly presented him a document in which the substance of the Nicene Creed was inserted. I have not introduced here, because of their length, the letters from Smyrna, Asia, and from Pisidia, Isauria, Pamphylia, and Lycia, in all which places they had held Synods. The written profession which the deputies sent with Eustathius, delivered to Liberius, is as follows:

‘To our Lord, Brother, and fellow-Minister Liberius: Eustathius, Theophilus, and Silvanus, salutations in the Lord.

‘On account of the insane opinion of heretics, who cease not to introduce occasions of offense into the catholic churches, we being desirous of checking their career, come forward to express our approbation of the doctrines recognized the Synod of orthodox bishops which has been convened at Lampsacus, Smyrna, and various other places: from which Synod we being constituted a deputation, bring a letter to your benignity and to all the Italian and Western bishops, by which we declare that we hold and maintain the catholic faith which was established in the holy council at Nicæa under the reign of Constantine of blessed memory, by three hundred and eighteen bishops, and has hitherto continued entire and unshaken; in which creed the term homoousios is holily and devoutly employed in opposition to the pernicious doctrine of Arius. We therefore, together with the aforesaid persons whom we represent, profess under our own hand, that we have held, do hold, and will maintain the same faith even unto the end. We condemn Arius, and his impious doctrine, with his disciples, and those who agree with his sentiments; as also the same heresy of Sabellius,596596    See I. 5, and note. the Patripassians,597597    The Patripassians were a sect of the early Church (end of second century), who asserted the identity of the Son with the Father. And, as on being confronted with the question whether it was the Father that suffered on the cross they answered in the affirmative, they were called Patripassians. Their leader was Praxeas. See Tertull. Adv. Praxeam (the whole treatise is meant to be a refutation of this heresy). the Marcionites,598598    Followers of the well-known Gnostic leader of the second century. For his peculiar views, see Tertull. Adv. Marcionem; Epiphan. Hæres. XLII.; also Smith and Wace, Dict. of Christ. Biog., under Marcion, and ecclesiastical histories. the Photinians,599599    Cf. II. 18 and 29. the Marcellians,600600    Cf. I. 36; II. 20. that of Paul of Samosata,601601    See note, I. 36. and those who countenance such tenets; in short all the heresies which are opposed to the aforesaid sacred creed, which was piously and in a catholic spirit set forth by the holy fathers at Nicæa. But we especially anathematize that form of the creed which was recited at the Synod of Ariminum,602602    See II. 37. as altogether contrary to the before-mentioned creed of the holy Synod of Nicæa, to which the bishops at Constantinople affixed their signatures, being deceived by artifice and perjury, by reason of its having been brought from Nice,603603    See II. 37. As it appears from V. 4, Liberius was actually deceived by the artifice. a town of Thrace. Our own creed, and that of those whose delegates we are, is this:

‘“We believe in one God the Father Almighty, the Maker of all things visible and invisible: and in one only-begotten God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; begotten of the Father; that is of the substance of the Father; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father, through whom all things were made which are in heaven, and which are upon the earth: who for us men, and for our salvation, descended, became incarnate, and was made man; suffered, and rose again the third day; ascended into the heavens, and will come to judge the living and the dead. [We believe] also in the Holy Spirit. But the Catholic and Apostolic Church of God anathematizes those who assert that ‘there was a time when he was not,’ and ‘that he was not before he was begotten,’ and that ‘he was made of things which are not’; or those that say ‘the Son of God is of another hypostasis’ or ‘substance than the Father,’ or that ‘he is mutable, or susceptible of change.’

‘“I, Eustathius, bishop of the city of Sebastia, with Theophilus and Silvanus, delegates of the Synod of Lampsacus, Smyrna, and other places, have voluntarily subscribed this confession of faith with our own hands. And if, after the publication of this creed, any one shall presume to calumniate either us, or those who sent us, let him come with the letters of your holiness before such orthodox bishops as your sanctity shall approve of, and bring the matter to an issue with us before them; and if any charge shall be substantiated, let the guilty be punished.”’

Liberius having securely pledged the delegates by this document, received them into communion, and afterwards dismissed them with this letter:

The Letter of Liberius Bishop of Rome, to the Bishops of the Macedonians.

To our beloved brethren and fellow-ministers, Evethius, Cyril, Hyperechius, Uranius, Heron, Elpidius, Maximus, Eusebius, Eucarpius, Heortasius, Neon, Eumathius, Faustinus, Proclinus, Pasinicus, Arsenius, Severus, Didymion, Brittanius, Callicrates, Dalmatius, Ædesius, Eustochius, Ambrose, Gelonius, Pardalius, Macedonius, Paul, Marcellus, Heraclius, Alexander, Adolius, Marcian, Sthenelus, John, Macer, Charisius, 102Silvanus, Photinus, Anthony, Aythus, Celsus, Euphranon, Milesius, Patricius, Severian, Eusebius, Eumolpius, Athanasius, Diophantus, Menodorus, Diocles, Chrysampelus, Neon, Eugenius, Eustathius, Callicrates, Arsenius, Eugenius, Martyrius, Hieracius, Leontius, Philagrius, Lucius, and to all the orthodox bishops in the East, Liberius bishop of Italy, and the bishops throughout the West, salutations always in the Lord.

Your letters, beloved brethren, resplendent with the light of faith, delivered to us by our highly esteemed brethren, the bishops Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus, brought to us the much longed-for joy of peace and concord: and this chiefly because they have demonstrated and assured us that your opinion and sentiments are in perfect harmony with those both of our insignificance, and also with those of all the bishops in Italy and the Western parts. We knowledge this to be the Catholic and Apostolic faith, which until the time of the Synod at Nicæa had continued unadulterated and unshaken. This creed your legates have professed that they themselves hold, and to our great joy have obliterated every vestige and impression of an injurious suspicion, by attesting it not only in word, but also in writing. We have deemed it proper to subjoin to these letters a copy of this their declaration, lest we should leave any pretext to the heretics for entering into a fresh conspiracy, by which they might stir up the smouldering embers of their own malice, and according to their custom, rekindle the flames of discord. Moreover our most esteemed brethren, Eustathius, Silvanus, and Theophilus, have professed this also, both that they themselves, and also your love, have always held, and will maintain unto the last, the creed approved of at Nicæa by 318 Orthodox Bishops; which contains the perfect truth, and both confutes and overthrows the whole swarm of heretics. For it was not of their own will, but by Divine appointment that so great a number of bishops was collected against the madness of Arius, as equaled that of those by whose assistance blessed Abraham through faith destroyed so many thousand of his enemies.604604    Gen. xiv. 14. This faith being comprehended in the terms hypostasis and homoousios, like a strong and impregnable fortress checks and repels all the assaults and vain machinations of Arian perverseness. Wherefore when all the Western bishops were assembled at Ariminum, whither the craft of the Arians had drawn them, in order that either by deceptive persuasions, or to speak more truly, by the coercion of the secular power, they might erase, or indirectly revoke what had been introduced into the creed with so much prudence, their subtlety was not of the least avail. For almost all those who at Ariminum were either allured into error, or at that time deceived, have since taken a right view of the matter; and after anathematizing the exposition of faith set forth by those who were convened at Ariminum, have subscribed the Catholic and Apostolic Creed which was promulgated at Nicæa. They have entered into communion with us, and regard the dogma of Arius and his disciples with increased aversion, and are even indignant against it. Of which fact when the legates of your love saw the indubitable evidences, they annexed yourselves to their own subscription; anathematizing Arius, and what was transacted at Ariminum against the creed ratified at Nicæa, to which even you yourselves, beguiled by perjury, were induced to subscribe. Whence it appeared suitable to us to write to your love, and to accede to your just request, especially since we are assured by the profession of your legates that the Eastern bishops have recovered their senses, and now concur in opinion with the orthodox of the West. We further give you to understand, lest ye should be ignorant of it, that the blasphemies of the Synod of Ariminum have been anathematized by those who seem to have been at that time deceived by fraud, and that all have acknowledged the Nicene Creed. It is fit therefore that it should be made generally known by you that such as have had their faith vitiated by violence or guile, may now emerge from heretical darkness into the Divine light of catholic liberty. Moreover whosoever of them, after this council, shall not disgorge the poison of corrupt doctrine, by abjuring all the blasphemies of Arius, and anathematizing them, let them know that they are themselves, together with Arius and his disciples and the rest of the serpents, whether Sabellians, Patripassians, or the followers of any other heresy, dissevered and excommunicated from the assemblies of the Church, which does not admit of illegitimate children. May God preserve you steadfast, beloved brethren.

When the adherents of Eustathius had received this letter, they proceeded to Sicily, where they caused a Synod of Sicilian bishops to be convened, and in their presence avowed the homoousian faith, and professed their adherence to the Nicene Creed: then having received from them also a letter to the same effect as the preceding, they returned to those who had sent them. They on their part, on the receipt of the letters of Liberius, sent delegates from city to city to the prominent supporters of the doctrine of the homoousion, exhorting them to assemble simultaneously at Tarsus in Cilicia, in order to confirm the Nicene Creed, and ter103minate all the contentions which had subsequently arisen. And indeed this would probably have been accomplished had not the Arian bishop, Eudoxius, who at that time possessed great influence with the emperor, thwarted their purpose; for on learning of the Synod that had been summoned to meet [at Tarsus], he became so exasperated that he redoubled his persecution against them. That the Macedonians by sending legates to Liberius were admitted to communion with him, and professed the Nicene Creed, is attested by Sabinus himself, in his Collection of Synodical Transactions.


« Prev The Macedonians, pressed by the Emperor's… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |